Renaissance is a term used to mean a period of rebirth by the Italians which saw changes in culture and great achievements. It was a period of renewed interest in cultural classical antiquity which proceeded the dark ages. The changes associated with this period of cultural transition had significant effects in the life of many individuals. Renaissance was a transitional period with radical changes that took place during 15th and 16th centuries in European culture (Rodd, R. 1932). This led to a demise of middle ages and adoption of modern cultural values. Cultural rebirth was one of the main characteristic features of Renaissance. At this period, main developments were made in the category of art, religion, culture, philosophy and government.
Renaissance was first experienced in North Italy main cities being Florence, Milan and Venice but the most significant impact was felt in Rome (Connell, J. 2002). Renaissance popes contributed entirely in rebuilding of Rome. Establishment of strong ties between Italian’s and the East resulted to progress in cultural practices. However, this coupled with Constantinople one of the ancient capital of the Roman Empire. This period saw return of ancient learning and creation of wealth opportunities which had lost to the West. A clear understanding of the Renaissance Rome is by a close look at Renaissance as a movement which was influenced by science, knowledge and thought. This age of period was characterized by discovery in architecture and art expressed in aspects of culture.
The whole of Central Italy was subjected to rule of bureaucratic system under the control of Pope and Cardinals. The need for powerful positions led to increased level of competition for powerful positions in many various noble families. Rome at this point was in a position to compete with other European cities in matters of wealth, art, and beauty. The transitional period saw Rome overtake other cities which had greater economic and cultural advancements. The urban development of renaissance was initiated by Nicholas. He is one of the well known erudition and learner in matters of humanism field who led to restoration of Rome making it become the centre of interest. This led to attraction of many gifted artists and architects who promoted cultural practices. The idea of humanism included literature and rhetoric which was on the basis of classical world (Fernandez, D. 2006). The greatest cultural achievements of Renaissance Rome were science, literature and poetry, music, architecture, science, sculpture and painting.
The Italian Renaissance is known best for its cultural achievements whereby advancement in literature began with Petrarch. He was known best for elegantly polishing vernacular sonnet and initiation of book collecting. Many well known vernacular poets in the fifteenth century considered renaissance epic authors. The Platonist philosophers were very instrumental at this particular time as they made transitions of the literature work from Latin and Greek. The humanist style well reflected modern and ancient cultural practices. A major development in literature was poetry whereby books were printed in Venice and Italian works began to be published in Italian language.
The works extended beyond theology and led to establishment of pre-Christian eras. The main literature work during the Renaissance Rome was translation of classic work from Greek and Latin. Developing of science and philosophy influenced largely the work of poetry and literature. Another major influence on literature was politics which was reflected in the works of The Prince. The era of cultural achievements in Rome was a time of economic regression. This was impacted by economic downtown which was influenced by opening of Atlantic trade routes. Repeated invasions by foreigners such as France and Spanish empire also contributed to economic regression.
Philosophy another major cultural achievement for Renaissance was one of the main contributors to humanism. In this aspect humanism was considered as an optimistic philosophy in which man was considered as a rational being. This meant that man was in a position to think and decide issues on his own. The humanism philosophy contracted with Roman Catholic Church in which the former saw man as a natural being while the Catholic Church saw man as a sinner who needed redemption. The Italians were encouraged to study Latin classics and Petrarch always carried his Homer to teach people Greek. The humanist education was promoted by scholars such as Pico Della Mirandola with a view of bringing down the lost manuscripts only known by reputation. The wealth of many Italians especially patricians, despots and merchant-princes promoted humanist education through building of libraries.
Discovery of the past became a fashionable affair that promoted upper reaches of the society. Consideration of various aspects of literature work such as manuscripts, museums, and libraries promoted the dawn of printing press. The Antiquity works were translated to modern languages from Greek and Latin which finally landed in the hands of middle class audience. The period of Renaissance led to backwardness of science as philosophy, literature and art gained momentum. Humanism was categorical in stressing that nature existed as an animate spiritual creation not governed by concepts of law (Holmes, G. 1986). At the same time laws or rules relating to deduction and logic were considered secondary to emotion making philosophy loss its rigor.
Sculpture and painting were main developments during Renaissance Rome whereby outstanding painting reflected realism and was seen in three dimensions which occupy the rational space. New paintings began in Florence and Tuscany whereby new techniques were applied and this reduced the art work into two dimensions. During the 16th century many artists began to use new techniques as a means of manipulating light and darkness. A good example to represent this was the tone contrast clearly evident in Titian’s portraits.
The first non-religious theme was used during this period which reflected the representation of other cultural considerations. In the early 20th century, writers however questioned about the degree of secularism evident during the period of Renaissance. Traditional paintings or portraits constituted most of the philosophical output. Donatello was the most influential person in the aspect of sculpture which basically represented emotional intensity. The sculpture work is evident today in Italy which culminates goals of the past period.
Detail of The Last Judgment by Michelangelo
In architecture, a major achievement is clearly evident in many parts of Florence whereby the Renaissance style was revolutionally but never represented incomplete monument. Earliest buildings reflect the work of architecture during Renaissance Rome like the Pazzi Chapel. A new sense of light, spaciousness and clarity which represents the early Renaissance is clearly reflected in the interior of Santo Spirito.
The architectural works represents philosophy of humanism which is a symbol of enlightenment and consciousness of mind (Huxley, J. 1962). This on the contrary opposes concepts of spirituality and darkness as were experienced during the middle ages. In the 14th century, musical activities exploded which corresponded in the scope of innovation in respect to other art works. The cultural achievements were important in the history of Italy representing forms, style and sources which saw the spread of culture from institutions to common people.
Rodd, R. (1932). Rome of the Renaissance and To-day, Macmillan.
Fernandez, D. (2006). Rome, Renaissance Quarterly, Vol.59.
Connell, J. (2002). Society and Individual in Renaissance Florence. New York: University of California Press.
Holmes, G. (1986). Florence, Rome, and the origins of the Renaissance, Clarendon Press.
Huxley, J. (1962). The Humanist Frame, Harper.